by Terry J. Hallock

Tested, Tough, Triumphant
Terry J. Hallock
2 Cor. 12:7-10; 1 Peter 1:3-9; James 1:2-4
August 27, 2000

The three passages for this morning share one common thread. They are the unique and personal faith response of first century Christians to the tests and trials of life. When their lives were placed in the fires of suffering and trial these early believers like Paul, Peter and James responded with a radical and what some might even call an incomprehensible attitude that turned their scars into stars and their pain into gain.

We may now be in the midst of a test or a trial. The issue is not whether those tests and trials will come but how we will respond to them. The outcome will not be decided by the character of the test but by the character of our faith. To borrow Jesus' parable, when the storms of life blow against our house of life it will either stand or fall dependent on the strength of its foundation. In the midst of tests and trials we will either be terminated or toughened dependent on the foundation of hope we have placed at the root of our lives. Is it made of solid rock or shifting sands?

There were two parts to the first century Christian's response to times of testing and trial. First, the early Christians did not question the inevitability of life's times of testing. They did not expect and they did not ask that Jesus release them from those things that are common to all human life. They knew that they lived in a sin sick, broken world and that the decaying forces of that world would eventually spill on to their lives. Further they fully expected to be tried and tested if for no other reason than that their very identity with Christ made such trial and testing all the more possible. They understand that as Christ's people they were square pegs in a round holed world. Jesus had so radically changed them they no longer neatly fit into the world's system and they knew that system would make them pay for their nonconformity.


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